Ask Team Practical: Renewing Our Vows by Liz Moorhead I really want to remarry my husband but I don’t know quite how to accomplish it and could use some advice. I didn’t love my wedding. In fact I kind of hated it. Although the ceremony was hands down the BEST part of my wedding, I remember almost none of it (other than vague good feelings) and honestly, it wasn’t until a few months after the wedding that I was able to really feel committed and like I had truly pledged my life to my husband. I want to be able to marry the love of my life when I’m feeling so much more in love and calmer than I was able to be on our wedding day. I’ve thought about going to the JP, but that feels too formal and odd, as we’re already legally married. We were originally married by my husband’s best friend who did an amazing job, but he lives in another state, wouldn’t be available for our anniversary, plus in a weird way, part of what I want is the freedom to say to my husband all the things I couldn’t say in front of other people on our wedding day. I know he’d like the same opportunity. I want it to feel legit and sincere which is why I’m questioning whether going off by ourselves and doing it would make it as real as I want. Besides which—where do we go? Just stand in our tiny apartment surrounded by toy poodles barking and try to do it? We live in a city so while woods and parks are readily available, it feels weird to go someplace in public to do this too. In essence, I feel like what I’m really asking about is intimacy. How does an intimacy-challenged couple working hard on breaking down walls and self-protections, bare their hearts for each other in a safe environment, without having to do it at home? I plan on doing this every year we’re married (he’s agreed), and I’m sure each year it will become easier to tell my husband how I feel about him, no matter who’s around. But this first year feels even scarier than the wedding, so venue and how to do it is definitely throwing me for a loop. —Anonymous Dear Anonymous, Whew, lady, you’re asking so many different questions here, I don’t even know where to start. First off, not loving your wedding sucks. But if the links at the bottom of this post are any indication, you’re not alone (I seriously get emails about that very topic every week). Like I’ve said before, I’m all for replacing bad memories with good, while you wait for those bad ones to fade and grow funny with age. You hate looking back on your wedding? Sure, replace that thought with a happy memory of running off to a park to whisper secret thoughts to each other. Lovely. But, what you don’t need is a vow renewal. Even though you wish you could have a wedding do-over, you don’t need to re-do the whole getting married part of it. That part (which you, luckily, said was nice) is already done and taken care of. The vows are still awesome and valid and yours, even if the crap surrounding them wasn’t. You made a promise, and that promise still stands. This isn’t a lease; you bought the house. You don’t need to re-sign annually. I think it’s just awesome that you feel even more in love and even more solidly grounded in commitment, but you know? Ideally you’ll feel that way every year. (Ideally. Let’s be frank, there’ll be some years that you won’t feel anything but, “What was I thinking?”) The more time passes, the more shared experiences you’ll have, the more ups and downs you’ll share, the more you’ll grow together, learn about each other, and experience the back and forth of hurt and forgiveness and love. I loved my husband a ton when we married four years ago (that’s, uh, why we got married). But holy crap, since then we’ve experienced loss and regret and doing without and having a kid and medical issues and familial issues… Compared to what we have between us now, what I felt before we married does seem pretty baseless. And I can’t imagine how what we have now will compare to what we would have in fifty years. So, maybe you do have things you’d like to say to him. But there’s no need to re-promise, “No, this time foreals.” Not only will you (hopefully) grow together every year, but every year will also find you in a different place in life, a different place in your relationship. Maybe this year, what you really need is to put some words to how this past year has impacted your relationship and how you view it. But, that might not be the case next year. Something altogether different might be a better reflection of where your relationship stands and what best celebrates it. Besides all that, my hope for you is that saying this stuff out loud to each other will be old hat by your next anniversary, not something worth celebrating. Vow renewal doesn’t need to happen annually, but communication does need to happen daily. The line between, “I promise” and “I love you” can feel sort of blurred and indistinguishable when we’re talking about weddings and marriage. But the difference is, “I promise” lasts until you say, “I don’t promise any more.” You don’t need to keep reiterating, “Still promise!” Whereas you do need to reiterate, “Hey, I love you,” very often. I hear you saying you just want to know how to get started on talking about this stuff, and I guess your anniversary is as good a time as any. But please don’t wait till that anniversary every year to talk about it again. It’s great that you’re acknowledging that things need to be said, and that you’re trying to build a habit to ease you into saying them, but that habit needs to be more than once every twelve months. So for this anniversary, sure, maybe find a special place to talk. While technically “public,” a picnic in the park, or a snug coffee shop, or a fancy dinner can offer enough privacy for the exchange of some important thoughts. Personally, I think if you’re not used to sharing how you feel, The Time to Say Things might make you feel more uncomfortable than just saying them. Rather than wait till anniversary night, in a specific place at a specific time, with the knowledge of what’s coming bubbling up into anxious anticipation, it might be easier to just surprise him over dinner one night after work and say, “Hey. I’ve been thinking about how much I love you.” That’s a ritual you can repeat as often as you want. ***** Team Practical, have you considered renewing your vows? How do you make sure that you’re communicating the important, intimate thoughts in your marriage? Photo: Lisa Wiseman. If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off! Liz Moorhead Staff Writer Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.